Trading Standard officers tackle underage knife sales in Kensington and Chelsea

Trading Standards officers from Kensington and Chelsea Council are continuing to play a vital role in keeping knives out of the hands of the borough’s young people.

Statistics from an ongoing programme of “test purchases” in the borough – during which underage volunteers try to illegally buy knives – reveal that none of five attempts made by under-18s during 2018/19 resulted in a sale.

The figure, released during London Trading Standards Week’s focus on illegal knife sales to teenagers, forms part of statistics showing that 160 knives were sold to volunteers as young as 13 during test purchases across the capital last year.

Cllr Cem Kemahli, lead member for Trading Standards, said:

“The majority of businesses in Kensington and Chelsea behave responsibly when it comes to knife sales. Test purchasing reassuringly shows that the advice and training our Trading Standards officers provide is working.

“We will not be resting on our laurels. Keeping our streets safe is a priority and businesses that have been offered advice and training and do not follow good practice will be severely dealt with if they make an underage sale.”

Kensington and Chelsea Trading Standards officers have also carried out 32 test purchases over the last year under the Challenge 25 policy – which requires retailers to request approved identification from anyone who looks younger than 25 – with 14 retailers failing to ask for ID. All 14 were offered and strongly encouraged to attend training to help improve their staffs’ knowledge and processes.

Haresh Patel, owner of home and garden specialist Tylers Notting Hill

Haresh Patel, owner of home and garden specialist Tylers Notting Hill, is a keen supporter of the work of Trading Standards having undergone – and passed – test purchase visits ever since he opened the store in 1986.

Mr Patel provides training for all staff on their responsibilities when selling age-restricted items and has invested in an electronic point of sale system that reminds employees to check the age of people buying knives or solvents.

He said: “The test purchase scheme does keep us on our toes, but we can see the importance of it. We are confident in the training that we provide and proud that we have never failed a test in 33 years.”

London Trading Standards has launched a Responsible Retailer Agreement (RRA), good practice guide and online training animations as part of today’s focus on illegal knife sales.

Shops signing up to the RRA, which has been launched in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Metropolitan Police Service, will commit to follow a series of measures to keep bladed items out of the hands of under-18s, including:

  • Understanding the basic requirements for the safe storage of knives
  • Following the ASSESS-CHALLENGE-CHECK process for selling age-restricted goods
  • Knowing when and how to contact police with suspicions of knife crime or where staff feel threatened by customers

Leon Livermore, Chief Executive at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: 

“These figures show how important test purchases of knives by Trading Standards officers are. We fully support this new retailer agreement. It is an important weapon in keeping UK consumers safe.”